Butterflies - Small Tortoiseshell (Aglais urticae)
The Small Tortoiseshell butterfly is one of our most common and easily recognised species. It can be found in a wide variety of habitats and regularly occurs in gardens. It is fast flying in bright sunshine but can be easily approached when feeding.
The species is a strong flyer and easily colonises suitable habitat. It also hibernates during the winter and is usually one of the first butterflies to be seen in the spring.
Recent years have seen a rapid decline in numbers of Small Tortoiseshell both in Warwickshire and across the whole of the UK. The primary reason for this decline is due to the expanding range of a tachinid parasitoid fly called Sturmia bella which was first recorded in Britain in 1999. The fly lays its eggs on the surface of Common Nettle leaves. These are ingested by the young caterpillars of the Small Tortoiseshell and other nettle feeding species of the Nymphalidae family (Peacock, Comma and Red Admiral) although these appear not to be effected. The Sturmia bella larvae develop within the caterpillar and emerge just after the caterpillar pupates, killing the pupae in the process.
- Larval Food Plants
- Key Sites
Common Nettle (Urtica dioica)
Gardens, railways, rough ground, anywhere where the larval foodplant Common Nettle is present.
Resident in Warwickshire.
A widespread species which can be found across our region. In locations where Common Nettles occur, the species may be numerous.
A photographic slideshow displaying various images of the Small Tortoiseshell is currently in development.
Details of how you can supply your own photographs for display here will be made available soon.
The flight chart below is based on observations of the adult Small Tortoiseshell butterfly in Warwickshire between 2005 and 2008. Peak periods are shown in dark green.